Best Iron Bull build - Dragon Age: Inquisition (DAI)

By zanuffas
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Best Iron Bull build

In this post, I will write about Iron Bull's best build in the Dragon Age Inquisition. He is a Captain of a mercenary group - Bull's Chargers. You will be able to hire him and his members to help the Inquisitor.

The objective of Reaver is to kill enemies. Due to this all of the skills suggested even if they look defensive are selected for this sole purpose.

To be honest Iron Bull was the hardest companion to build yet. I hope you will enjoy using it!

Important! The companion build is compatible with Nightmare difficulty, however, to pull it off correctly, be sure to have a good Inquisitor build

So let us get through it

Abilities level 1 - 10

At this point in the game, Iron Bull will be just an average warrior. No need to do anything fancy, have a few knockdown skills, some guard generation and that should be enough before you reach Reaver specialization

Order Skill Description
1 Mighty Blow + Easy Target A good early ability to deal damage and knock out enemies.
2 Grappling chain iconGrappling Chain We take this ability for progression mainly
3 Crippling blows iconCrippling Blows We take this ability for progression mainly
4 coup de grace iconCoup De Grace Deal additional damage against stunned and knocked down enemies
5 horn of valor iconHorn of Valor + Fortifying Blast With this ability, you will boost the party damage and also allow the group to gain guard per hit
6 Combat roll iconCombat Roll + Coming Through Extremely good ability early in the game for Iron Bull. He can roll through enemies dealing 500% of weapon damage in AOE.

If you will have any points left invest them in the weapon tree that you use. Otherwise, this will be enough before you unlock Champion specialization for Blackwall at level 11.

Iron Bull Reaver build

This build is extremely difficult to pull off for it to fully work you will need these things:

  • A good tank like Blackwall in the party
  • Good gear for Iron Bull with sufficient Constitution
  • Some micromanaging for Iron Bull

The idea is that we will start the build without the main Reaver skills. You should be taking them at level 16+ once you have good gear.

The problem with Iron Bull and Reaver is that AI is not smart enough to know how to manage your HP correctly when using Dragon Rage attack. For this reason, I will share tips on how to counteract this main problem.

Remember that you will need to respecialize skills before making this build

Abilities investment - detailed progression

IMPORTANT: Get relevant Amulet of Power for Iron Bull to maximize the number of ability points

In this section, I will go through all the skills and talents that need to be picked for this Iron Bull build in the Dragon Age Inquisition.

Order Skill Description
1 block and slash iconBlock and Slash I personally do not think this ability is worthwhile. It can be useful in levels 12-16. however, a good tank like Blackwall can cover for that
2 flow of battle iconFlow of Battle Each critical hit will reduce the cooldown of kills by 1 second
3 pommel strike icon dragon age inquisitionPommel Strike + Lightning Jab A fast and cheap attack that deals 700% of weapon damage and stuns the enemy. A perfect ability for warrior
4 War cry iconChallenge We take it mainly for progression
5 Charging Bull iconCharging Bull + Gore and Trample With this skill, you will ensure that Iron Bull could generate Guard fast at the start of the combat
6 Grappling chain iconGrappling Chain We take this ability for progression mainly
7 Crippling blows iconCrippling Blows We take this ability for progression mainly
8 coup de grace iconCoup de Grace Deal additional damage against stunned and knocked down enemies
9 horn of valor iconHorn of Valor + Fortifying Blast A crucial ability for this build. It will provide additional Guard generation for normal hits
10 ring of pain iconRing of Pain This ability drains too much stamina, due to this we only take it for progression
11 blood frenzy iconBlood Frenzy Increases your damage the less HP you have. It Will work well with Dragon Rage
12 Fervor iconFervor A close dead enemy will increase your damage by 30% for 5 seconds
13 Scenting Blood iconScenting Blood You will get additional Speed and a critical chance bonus when the enemy has low hp.
14 Devour iconDevour + Lifeblood/Consume This ability will allow you to restore HP and do additional damage the less HP you have. Choose Lifeblood if you will use Dragon-Rage + Ravage. Otherwise, go for Consume upgrade if you use Dragon-Rage + Leashed Fury
15 Dragon-rage iconDragon-Rage + Ravage/Leashed Fury The Signature ability of this build. It will use 2% of your HP instead of stamina and gain a bonus to damage the less HP you have. I recommend Ravage upgrade. However, if you see that Iron Bull dies often take Leashed Fury.
16 Mighty Blow We take this ability mainly for progression
17 shield breaker iconShield-Breaker Each critical hit will weaken enemy armor.

If you have any points left feel free to put them anywhere else. However, I would say that the build is finished with the ones that I have listed above. At this point in-game, your party should be about level 21

Late game investments

These are abilities that you should take if you will have additional points left:

  • Whirlwind + Clear a Path - boosts stamina regeneration for each two-handed weapon swing
  • Hamstring + Deep Reserve - boosts stamina regeneration when it is below 50%

Stats and Attributes

In this section, I will go through stats that I recommend Iron Bull to prioritize when selecting equipment.

Level 11 - 15

This is the middle of the game, where you just acquire Reaver specialization. The most important part is getting Guard per hit.

  • Guard * per hit - important stat, so that you would be able to always have a full Guard bar.
  • Strength - increases your damage
  • Constitution - increases your damage and life

Level 15+

At this point, you should have Iron Bull equipped with good gear. Due to this, we add additional stats that Iron Bull should get.

  • Health Recovery - only take this if you will set Dragon Rage to preferred, otherwise, your generated Guard should be enough
  • Critical Chance - will activate many of your passive abilities to reduce cooldowns
  • Attack - increases overall Iron Bull damage output
  • Strength - bonus to overall damage
  • Constitution - increases overall HP pool. Important for this build so that Iron Bull would not die easily
  • Critical Damage - this stat becomes important if you reach more than a 50% critical chance

Best Items and Equipment

This section will cover some item recommendations for Iron Bull

Masterwork materials

I suggest looking for Masterwork materials that give Guard on hit. These include materials like Fade-Touched Obsidian:

Fade-Touched obsidian

Masterwork skill Description Materials
Guard on Hit Essential to have for this build, otherwise the Iron Bull may die too often Fade-Touched Obsidian
Fade-Touched Silverite

Weapons - obtainable

Priority Item Description
1 single incarnation iconSingle Incarnation Available during the Trespasser DLC. It is quite a powerful axe. I suggest trying it out and seeing, as it has unique abilities
2 demons advocate iconDemon's Advocate Extremely powerful Maul, that makes enemies explode after they are killed. I prefer this one compared to the others.
3 chromatic greatsword iconChromatic Greatsword Similar to Prismatic Greataxe, you will randomly deal elemental damage together with physical damage. This weapon can last you until the end of the game. The sword makes this Reaper Two-Handed build especially powerful
4 certainty iconCertainty The sword gives a +36% Attack boost, this equates to an almost 72 strength bonus. This can be an alternative to the Chromatic Greatsword if you don't prefer its looks
5 prismatic greataxe iconPrismatic Greataxe Due to the weapons mechanics, this weapon deals a bonus of 100% elemental damage. So with a skill like Pommel Strike, you will deal 600% elemental damage and 600% physical damage.

Weapons - craftable

Schematics are usually better than obtainable counterparts. However, you need good materials for that.

Priority Item Description
1 prismatic greataxe scehmatic iconPrismatic Greataxe Schematic One of the more overpowered weapons that deal additional elemental damage together with Physical damage. Perfect for Iron Bull.
2 chromatic greatsword schematic iconChromatic Greatsword Schematic One of the more overpowered weapons. However, the schematic can only be obtained in Trespasser DLC. Similar to Prismatic Greataxe Schematic
3 Axe of the Dragon Hunter Schematic iconAxe of the Dragon Hunter Schematic Has large Leather offensive slots, and can be easily obtained in Black Emporium

Armors - obtainable

Unfortunately, there are not many options for obtainable armors that provide offensive bonuses

Priority Item Description
1 the skin that stalks iconThe Skin That Stalks Obtainable only in the Trespasser DLC. Boosts Critical Damage, Critical Chance, and Attack.
3 revered defender armor iconRevered Defender Armor Abilities cost 10% less stamina with this armor. Moreover, it is perfect if you want Iron Bull to have maximum survivability
4 masterwork battlemaster armor iconMasterwork Battlemaster Armor Gives bonus stamina, which allows using more abilities
5 armor of the knights divine iconArmor of the Knights-Divine Abilities cost 7.5% less stamina. Moreover, gives bonus defensive stats.

Armors - craftable

Sadly there are not too many armors that you can craft to give a lot of offensive options. Your main priority is to either get Leather or Metal utility slots

Priority Item Description
1  The Skin That Strikes SchematicThe Skin That Strikes Schematic This medium armor can be worn by anyone and it has leather utility slots. This means it can boost either critical chance or critical damage.
2  Revered Defender Armor SchematicRevered Defender Armor Schematic A decent schematic that gives a large metal utility slot. However, you will need some luck to get it in The Descent DLC. This should be picked if you wish to have a higher armor value.
4 normal heavy armor schematic DAIBattlemaster Armor Schematic Great tier 3 schematic that you can get in Hissing Wastes. It also comes with Upgrade slots.

Helmets - obtainable

Priority Item Description
1 cretahl vitaar iconCretahl Vitaar The best Vitaar for this build as it provides the largest critical chance bonus. Moreover gives +9% to attack and increases maximum health.
2 Arishok's Vitaar iconArishok's Vitaar Another good Vitaar. Unfortunately, it is quite time-consuming to obtain this one, due to the need of collecting all shards. However, it is the only unique Vitaar in the base game (without any DLCs)
3 keen felandris vitaar iconKeen Felandris Vitaar This Vitaar is a decent choice for Iron Bull as it gives a 10.5% critical chance increase
4 Vitaar of the Dragon Hunter iconVitaar of the Dragon Hunter This Vitaar requires Jaws of Hakkon DLC.

Helmets - craftable

Priority Item Description
1 dread schematic iconDread Schematic Provides metal utility slots. Good for boosting constitution or strength attributes. However, I recommend the obtainable ones for better offensive stats.

Amulets

Priority Item Description
- Amulet of Power Gives Iron Bull a single ability point. It is consumed once you use it.
1 Enhanced amulet iconEnhanced Amulet of Barrier This is my recommended Amulet for Iron Bull. It will allow the build to survive in most of the fights. If you feel safe enough look at the second option to get additional stamina regeneration
2 Amulet of Death Syphon iconAmulet of Death Syphon This amulet will give stamina and hp regeneration after each enemy that dies nearby. Quite good as you will be in the front lines and constantly use abilities
3 Amulet of the Rogue Use this amulet to increase Iron Bull's Critical Damage and critical rate in the late game
4 Superb Amulet of Cunning This amulet will give a bonus critical chance.

Belts

Priority Item Description
1 Superb Belt iconThe Bind That Guides Top tier Belt, unfortunately only available in Trespasser DLC. Boosts Critical Chance by 10%
2 Superb Belt of health iconSuperb Belt of Health Great belt if you need survivability gives +200 Maximum Health
3 belt of life iconBelt of Life This belt gives +100 Maximum Health.

Rings

Priority Item Description
1 Superb Ring of Life-Drain iconSuperb Ring of Life-Drain This ring will drain HP from dying enemies. I think it is a safe option to use for Iron Bull. Of course, try out the Rings below for more offensive options.
2 Superb ring iconThe Hand That Cuts You only obtain this ring in Trespasser DLC. However, it gives a +20% Critical Damage bonus
3 Superb ring iconRing of Slicing The rings boost critical damage by 10% and critical chance by 5%. It is one of the best rings for this build
4 Superb Ring of Critical Chance Gives a +10% critical chance.

 

Iron Bull Tactics and behaviors

Iron Bull tactics are a bit complex and it is important that you read them. Reaver specialization has many weaknesses. So I will explain how the Tactics selection will boost Iron Bull damage and survivability.

Iron bull tactics reaver build dragon age inquisition

So let us go through the details. You should disable these skills:

  • Block and Slash
  • Grappling Chain
  • Mighty Blow - Pommel Strike is a worthy substitute and much faster
  • Ring of Pain - this ability does drain too much stamina
  • Challenge - we do not want to mess with the main Tank AI.

Set these abilities to Preferred:

  • Devour - this ability will restore your Hp and also deal decent damage. However, if you take Dragon-Rage upgrade Leashed Fury I would then set it to Active
  • Charging Bull - we want it to be used as much as possible. It will generate Guard but also your next ability will not cost any stamina
  • Dragon-Rage (optional) - once you are at the late game and have a Health Recovery stat boost or you have taken Leashed Fury upgrade. Otherwise Iron Bull will tear through HP too fast. However, with this, your DPS will increase drastically

These abilities should be set to active:

  • Dragon-Rage - if Iron Bull dies too often or you did not take Leashed Fury upgrade set this to active to maintain your HP.
  • Horn of Valor - it should be used from time to time
  • Pommel Strike - let AI decide the best time to use this ability

For behaviors here is what I recommend:

  • Mana/Stamina % reserve - 0%
  • Targeting Behavior - follow the tank

Conclusion

Thank you for reading this post about the in-depth build on Iron Bull. He is quite hard to pull off correctly. However, I think with these skill allocations and tactics suggestions you should have no problems with Iron Bull on Dragon Age Inquisition.

Feel free to leave any comments below!

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Discussion

Anonymous

Hey man, I just wanted to say thank you for all your guides. Been playing Mass effect and also Dragon age and your guides have been awesome to use and make the game that much easier. Thank you so much!

Anonymous

Which other 2 members of a party with Iron Bull and a mage inquisitor do you recommend?

Bull is my romance and I want to keep him on my team, but I think he's a little weak...

I updated the post a bit. here are my recommendations:

Otherwise this should be enough

Anonymous

Oh, is the conclusion of Blackwall and not Iron bull?

haha, good catch, I used the same template. Fixed it!

Anonymous

Zanuffas, I LOVE your dragon age guides since DA origins, thanks for the work!!

Thank you!